The US Navy is becoming sensitive to the fact that women are now entering submarines. In a bid to make them comfortable for women, designers are now changing the way submarines are made.
Now defence contractor Electric Boat has come on board to design the first Navy subs which will be built specifically to cater to female crew members.
Earlier, the US fleet was designed with the height, reach and strength keeping only men in mind. From the way valves were placed to how display screens were angled, everything was designed to suit a male-dominated army of officers
The designers are now adding more doors to make more rooms for women and also bathrooms. This will help create more private space for men and women to sleep in and bathe in. Apart from this, many other modifications are being considered in every nook and cranny of the submarine which may not have been thought about earlier when women were inducted into the service.
They are reducing the height of some overhead valves and making them easier to turn. They are also installing steps in front of the triple-high bunk beds and stacked laundry machines.
The first vessel that is made with changes to accommodate women — the USS New Jersey — will be delivered to the US Navy in 2021
US Navy broke barriers and inducted women into service in 2010. And currently, about 80 female officers and roughly 50 enlisted women are serving on subs. These numbers are expected to shoot up in the coming years as its popularity grows and more submarines that accommodate women come into being.
A redesign of the Navy’s Virginia-class fast-attack subs is underway by the Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut. And it is also developing a brand-new class of ballistic-missile submarines which depends on body measurement of men and women.
“We have a clean sheet of paper, so from the ground up, we’ll optimise for both men and women,” said Brian Wilson, Electric Boat director of the new ballistic-missile sub program, as reported by Indian Express.
Other changes include more extension handles to be incorporated in order to make them easier to turn. In order for everyone to touch display and reach every joystick in the control room on the ballistic-missile submarines, seats are modified to adjust forward a little more. Stairs will be added so shorter people can climb to the top bunk or see into the washers and dryers, since clothes that get stuck in the machines are a fire hazard.
Lt Marquette Leveque, who is one of the pioneer women to serve in US Navy submarines, is five feet and six inches tall and in her opinion, she never faced any problem in reaching any valve in the vessel. But she also thinks that the ergonomic modifications will be beneficial for other shorter crewmates.
Leveque was allotted a compartment with two other female officers on the USS Wyoming. Due to the lack of separate bathrooms, they had to share it with their male colleagues. However, they had found a way around it by putting a tag on the door which said man and woman on each side and flipping it would make others aware of who was using the bathroom.
“Privacy is important anywhere you are,” she said. “We live on this boat, as well as work there.”
Picture credit- Washington Times